Recently I was asked by an interview,
He included the creative process, publishing or editing. Admittedly nothing in the publishing or editing process particularly surprised me. I realized going into this field that getting published would be a challenge and would require all my powers of persistence. I also recognized that without support from well-known writers or publishing houses, I wouldn’t attract the attention of the big houses or an agent. No surprises there. That was simply realism.
As for the editing process, there were no surprises there as well. I understand that editing is the hallmark of good writing. Once I writer said her first draft was always perfect and she rarely made any changes, I recognized that statement as unrealistic.
Editing does that. Perhaps I didn’t realize in the early days that editing and creating were so different. That may have surprised me a bit. Editing requires a different kind of thinking–ruthlessness. Creating is softer, more forgiving.
So, what did really surprise me about writing? The answer lies in the creative process. I’ve always been a very organized person, with to-do lists and clear paths. I set those paths and I maintain a high level of discipline to meet the goals on those paths. Creative writing lapses in a different world. When I set out to write my first novel (a practice novel–one that will never be published), I began with an idea. The outline in my head had a fuzzy path, nothing concrete. Before long, my mind took me to places I’d never been or seen. Characters emerged with ideas of their own.
The surprise is that if I fought to bring the story back on the path I had original planned, it fell apart. If, however, I allowed the story to unfold as it wanted to, it grew and developed. This was not just a surprise but scary. When you don’t know where the story is going from day to day, it’s frighting. Negative thoughts take over. Things like: “This story is a bunch of crap or Who’d every want to read this?”
Persistence kept me going in those early days and I had to trust that everything would work in the end. The surprise was that it did!
Not organized or neat. But, if I will allow the messiness to happen, something special, something I never dreamed would happen emerges. Twists and turns I never predicted come into focus. My story unfolds and even I have no idea how.
Or maybe your other creative endeavors? Share with us. We’d love to hear from you.
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